Thursday, February 23, 2006

"We, the citizens of Singapore"

So begins Singapore's national pledge which all Singapore students from the Primary, Secondary to the Junior Colleges, without exception, make every school day. I said this pledge, like every student today, in my own time as a student, for 12 years. It is a pledge that is familiar and rings true to this day, if only because it is like a mantra - something you would perform because you have come to believe in it, which was exactly what its creator, Mr S Rajaratnam, originally intended.

S RajaratnamThe man who penned this pledge has died. Mr S Rajaratnam, who for more than 3 decades, was Singapore's face and voice to the outside world, died yesterday at about 3.15pm. I learnt of his death on the bus home from work, on a TV mobile ticker tape. He had been out of sight for a long time, so learning of his death didn't come as a shock, rather it was one of sadness and a sense that part of your life and experiences as a person growing up in Singapore is now past.

He was absent at the launch of a book on 40 years of the Singapore Foreign Service due to ill-health. Of all people, he should have been present, having created the Foreign Service when none existed. But we now know that he has been in ill-health for quite some time. Mr Lee Kuan Yew, erstwhile political boss and long-time friend, revealed that Rajaratnam did not recognise him as early as 1998, some 8 years ago. Dementia had already set in - a condition many old people suffer from, including my father.

Farewell, Mr S Rajaratnam. A nation mourns your passing.

Channel News Asia's Farewell to Mr S Rajaratnam


Anonymous said...

wat r his achievements?

Epilogos said...

I am somewhat surprised by the question. Either the commenter is too young to know Rajartnam in his/her lifetime (in which case I recommend you wait for a biography of him by Irene Ng (the MP), which is in the works) or the commenter is coaxing me to write that biography. I am sorry to disappoint him/her that I do not intend to write further about the man, much as I respect him.